I often share personal experiences in my books and talks in an effort to inspire others to a deeper faith, hope, and love. I believe that hearing stories of faith can inspire folks to do their part to push a bit beyond their comfort zones in an effort to help others. With “Susan’s” permission, I share this story…
Recently, a woman got in touch with me by email asking if I could possibly help her friend. She was extremely concerned for her friend and had high hopes that I could possibly do something to help her–somehow.
The woman said that not too long ago she had attended an event in Connecticut where she had heard me speak. She had read my memoir The Kiss of Jesus. She went on to explain the need for her email. She said:
My reason for getting in touch with you, is that I have a dear friend named “Susan” [I have changed the name] who lives in Connecticut… A year and two days ago, “Susan’s” husband left her, with 3 young children. It is a very long story. After having read your book, I should have sent one to “Susan” but to date have not. I had asked her to contact you, however, she is on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and I told her I would email you, in hopes you could be of some comfort to her…I am thanking you dear Donna-Marie in advance for any words you might offer to me and/or “Susan.”
Wow. Learning that this woman was on the verge of a nervous breakdown weighed heavily on me. I immediately prayed for her and her children and then put fingers to keys to respond to the email. I thought I should also reach out to “Susan” right away through another email. It was very clear that I needed to act immediately. The woman who contacted me had given me the email address. I emailed right away. Soon after, I heard back from “Susan.”
“Susan” opened up to me in emails. She trusted that she could be honest with me. She said, ” I am exhausted and depressed beyond what I ever thought I could be…” She explained the intense problems with her abusive ex-husband. There were many. She continued:
I am a mess, I am tired and overworked. I breakdown at least 5 times a day. I am so sad all the time and cannot imagine ever feeling happy again…I am a religious person and do not believe in divorce and feel very alone and stigmatized. I will never love or trust again…the pain is unbearable.I have lost my will to live. I would never hurt myself because my children need me but I sure wish God would just take me. Please help in any way possible…
My heart profoundly ached reading her words. That poor woman, I thought. I wanted to help her in any way that I could. We continued to email back and forth over a week’s time. Each time I wrote, I prayed that my simple yet earnest words could reach her heart. I wanted her to know that I cared. I reminded her that God loved her very much and would get her through this.
Then, I didn’t hear from her for awhile. My life was so busy with numerous tight writing deadlines and tending to family matters, but one day, I knew I had to send “Susan” another email to check on her and let her know that I was thinking of her and praying for her.
I’m so glad that I acted on that inspiration to get in touch with her, because she wrote back to say that she was not doing well at all. I suggested that we meet some place. Would she want to do that?
She said, “yes!” We set a time and place. I needed to put my work aside and carve out some time. She seemed to be in such a dark place. I had absolutely no idea what I could possibly say that could help her. I did know that God would figure it out for me. He needed my desiring heart and He would do the rest. I thought that I should bring blessed Miraculous Medals and St. Benedict medals (which bear a full exorcism blessing) for her and her three children, as well as a copy of my memoir.
I headed out the door with my memoir and blessed medals in hand. I prayed the rosary on the way to my destination. All the while, it still was not clear about what I would say to “Susan.” What could I say or do that could help to undo or untangle the messy events and pain in this woman’s life? I had absolutely no clue as I drove to meet her. But I didn’t worry about it. I knew that I would simply rely on God’s Divine graces to intervene. I was to show up with a loving heart and God would do the work. I trusted in His Divine love, mercy, and grace.
Daisies, daisies, everywhere!
I arrived at the library and waited outside checking out each vehicle that pulled up to try to discern if it could be “Susan” and her children coming to meet me. After about ten minutes time a woman came out of the library and asked if I was “Donna O’Boyle.” After I confirmed that I was, she told me that “Susan” had called and said she was caught up in traffic and would be a bit late.
When “Susan” and her children arrived, one of the first things she told me was that she had bought a bouquet of daisies for me but didn’t have time to stop back at her home to get them after her appointments due to heavy traffic that morning.
Daisies? Really? Aww.
It turns out she had read my daisy blog post and felt inspired to gift daisies to me.
What a sweet gesture on her part, I thought! It didn’t matter that she didn’t bring them. Her heartfelt gesture was enough. We chatted away at the library while her three small children played at our feet. We paused our conversation time and time again to reach for a new book or DVD to show the kids at each query and “interruption.” Still, we covered an awful lot of territory in that two and a half hours together. Before leaving the library, I gave “Susan” the blessed medals and the autographed copy of my memoir.
We parted with tight hugs outside the library alongside “Susan’s” vehicle. I told her that I loved her. She immediately expressed the same to me. God is so good to arrange this kind of meeting that might seem totally serendipitous, but truth be told–He had it planned all along. I am constantly in awe of God’s amazing work–always mindful of even the tiniest of details. “Susan” said she’d meet me at my church’s Sunday Mass in a few days. Meanwhile, we would stay in touch by email or texting because we had just exchanged phone numbers.
The next morning I found a beautiful email from “Susan.” In it she told me that our conversation had helped her in ways that she couldn’t express adequately. She said she was helped more than I would ever know. She said she felt dramatically changed because of it! She thanked me profusely. “Susan” was miraculously happy again! She had not felt happiness in over a year–something so hard to imagine.
In another email she said:
I have been thinking of you tonight. All day your kind words and smile went through my head. You have given me so much…I had been in such a dark place for a year that I could not give like I wanted. You do not know how much you have helped me by allowing me to let go so I could be myself again. I feel like I had a rebirth…
Wow! I immediately gave thanks to God. I felt so humbled and blessed that He used His tiny little servant to help this woman. God was showing me once again that He wants us all to push beyond our comfort zones to help others, and to trust Him that He will always come through to do the work–He will give us the words.
“Susan” shared something else that immensely touched my heart.
I cannot begin to tell you how much you helped me. I woke up today happy for the first time in a year. I was outside with my children today and we have daisies all over my hill. I just did not notice the flowers as I was so sad. And daisies!! What a sign. Now I get to bring you two bunches of flowers!
She was happy! It was the first time in a year! Can you imagine–daisies? God is certainly all about the details of e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. My heart was singing!
On Sunday evening, just a few days after we had met at the library, I looked forward to seeing “Susan” and her children at Mass at my parish. But, when my husband and I arrived at Mass that evening, my heart immediately sank. The parking lot was barricaded off due to new pavement. It was supposed to be finished by then and I hadn’t warned “Susan” about it when I gave her directions to the church. How would “Susan” know how to get in? I wondered. We drove to the back entrance and were able to get in that way. I prayed that she would find the way in and not be discouraged or turned away by the barricades. I trusted that God would lead the way.
Imagine my delight when after the final blessing and hymn at Mass, I turned and walked down the aisle and spotted “Susan” and her three sweet children coming out of a pew–two of them holding DAISIES! My heart skipped a beat! “Susan’s” little daughter held the bouquet of daisies that “Susan” had planned to bring to me when we first met. A small round vase filled with daisies that were picked from “Susan’s” back yard was held proudly by one of “Susan’s” sons. Lots of hugs were going all around and the children gifted the daisies to me.
Holding his gift carefully with both hands, “Susan’s” little son looked straight up into my eyes and said, “I picked these all by myself and put them in this vase!” And then he handed them to me, reminding me once again that they were picked and arranged all by himself.
Tears came to my eyes as I peered down at that glowing smiling face and those sweet daisies all arranged as only a little boy could. God’s abiding love deeply permeated my heart and soul as sweet children gifted me daisies and hugs. God seems to never tire of always making sure that His love going all around is multiplied. Our hearts are profoundly touched by His love in so many ways when we seek to reach out to help His children.
Please say a prayer for continued strength for “Susan” and her children, as well as for all of the other hurting and wounded people out there who are craving Christ’s love.
Is God asking you to push beyond your comfort zone to bring love and peace to others? Mother Teresa (with whom I shared a friendship and who modeled herself after St. Therese), was all about doing small things with great love. Christ’s love through us–even in small things–never fails to work miracles in human hearts.
“Our Lord’s love shines out just as much through a little soul who yields completely to His Grace as it does through the greatest . . . Just as the sun shines equally on the cedar and the little flower, so the Divine Sun shines equally on everyone, great and small. Everything is ordered for their good, just as in nature the seasons are so ordered that the smallest daisy comes to bloom at its appointed time.”
— St. Therese of Lisieux, Story of a Soul, p. 4-5